The Churches of Perth

This article appeared in The Sunday Leader-Herald on August 22, 1999.  It was written by former Perth Town Historian, Sylvia Zierack.  It is transcribed here with her permission.

 

By SYLVIA ZIERACK
MAY YOST
Perth Historical Society


Reformed Church

    In the early days of settlement in the latter part of the 1700s and after some sort of home was established, the hardy pioneers of this era turned their thoughts to establishing permanent houses of worship.  They were strong, principled people and religion was a very important part of their lives.

    Prior to the American Revolution, one such person was Daniel McIntyre who settled with his family in the wilderness and founded South Broadalbin which later became Perth Center.  The settlers who came with him or around the same time, first gathered to worship at his house.

    About 1790  the Rev. John MacDonald came from the Albany Presbytery to organize these families from Scotland and he worked in Ballston, West Galway, Broadalbin and Johnstown.  There was no Perth at that time.

    The first organized society at South Broadalbin came in 1797-1798 and was called the Associate Reformed Church of Broadalbin.  Its first church was built on the lands of William Montieth on the north side of the road which is now Route 107 and across from the school.  It was a barn like structure of clapboard with a loose board floor and only slab benches with no pulpit or heat.  Unable to support a full-time pastor, most services were conducted by Daniel McIntyre.  To take communion, members went ot Albany by horse and wagon, horseback and even by walking, a journey of almost a week.

    On May 10, 1804, the following trustees were elected:  James Robb, Daniel McIntyre Jr., Peter McGlashan, John Cameron, Peter Robertson and Duncan Stewart.  On September 24, 1804 John Walker, John McBeath and John McIntosh were installed as elders.

    A dispute developed with Mr. Montieth when he demanded the use of the church building half of the time for his Reformed Presbyterian to meet in.  Rather than bow to pressure, on March15, 1805, Daniel McIntyre donated a parcel of land across the road adjacent to his home and the church was moved there.  Due to the difficulty in moving the structure, it was never turned around to face the road and parishioners had to walk around it to enter.

    Some renovations took place at this time such as pews.  When heat was added some felt that a congregation should be warmed by the Holy Spirit and not have to depend on any apparatus for heat and departed for other churches.  This also happened when music and a choir was introduced.  Any changes often caused dissension.

    In 1831, land was permanently secured from John Montieth and a brick church was built on the original site and still stands although altered.  In 1833 a brick parsonage was built east of the church.  Improvements were made in 1861 and again in 1867.  Pews were numbered and sold to members of the congregation for which they received a deed.

    In 1858, a union of churches made the formation of the United Presbyterian Church of Broadalbin.  The Broadalbin name was retained even though Perth had been formed in 1838 and South Broadalbin had been annexed to Perth in 1842.

    The church grew steadily in the 1800's and was very influential in the area.  There were many pastors but one who stood out was Rev. Robert Proudfit who served from 1804 to 1818.

   By 1937 the church had declined and the doors almost closed permanently.  For almost 20 years there was no permanent pastor.  During the decline the church became very run-down and the parsonage was torn down.

Below, Right:  The Perth Bible Church as it stands today.

    Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Hickok and Charles Codding were responsible for getting the church going again and convinced Rev. Vernon Spurr to come to Perth.  After several pastors worked to keep the church going Rev. Billings took over and in 1964 requested release from the Presbytery.  It was renamed the Perth Bible Church and began to build up a congregation.  Because of its rapid growth, building projects were adopted in three phases to increase its size.  The old colonial sanctuary was removed and a  new sanctuary addition was built on the west side in 1975 under the guidance of Charles Scheide and in 1978 the Perth Bible Christian Academy was started and has grown steadily.  At present Rev. Robert Calhoun is pastor.

 

Six Principle Baptist Church

    The six Principle Baptist Church was organized in 1653 in Providence, Rhode Island.  These Christians believed that strict observance of the Six Principles of the Doctrine of Christ as set down in the Epistle of the Hebrews, Chapter 6, Verse 1 and 2; Repentance, Faith, Baptism and Laying on the Hands, Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment.

    In 1807, under the leadership of Pastor Henry Joslin, who was at that time pastor of the Richmond, Rhode Island church, formed a branch in Perth, which at that time was in the Town of Amsterdam and a church was built.

    At the death of Henry Joslin in 1813, his son James became pastor and in 1814 Elder William Allen died.  Thomas B. Kenyon was ordained Deacon of this society in 1816.  There were some 20 to 30 members.

    The earliest deed dated May 12, 1823 from M. Bostwick and his wife Deborah to Jacob Banta describe a farm of "seventy acres excepting 1/4 of an acre on which the Baptist meeting house is now situated".

    In 1831 Henry Bonfoy gave a quit-claim deed to David Atkins for $10 for the part of the west field which contained the church.  As far as can be figured out, this church was located on the corner of McQueen Road and the Perth Road on the northwest side.

    This branch of the church disappeared before 1856.  No trace of the church was ever found.

Methodist Episcopal Church

    On the 1868 map of Perth a Methodist Episcopal Church is indicated on the corner of Stairs Road and Dutch Church Road.  This was on the Asa Clark farm which was purchased by Nurnburghs in 1865.

    According to land records reference is made in 1868 of a transfer of 1/2 acre of land to the Evangelical Association by Caroline Nurnburgh etal.  In each following deed for this farm from 1870 to 1944, this same Evangelical Association Church is used as a reserved lot of 1/2 acre.

    Whether the map reference was wrong or the Evangelical Church became a Methodist Episcopal Church is not known.  An old picture shows the Methodist Episcopal Church as it appears in 1905, but not its location.

    We do know that the Methodist Episcopal Society had a building in the village of West Galway on the town line between Perth and Broadalbin, just north of the Presbyterian Church.  It had a small congregation and was supplied by pastors from other churches.

    After it closed its doors the building became a school, then the Gospel Meeting House and later the Bible Truth Hall.

    Today it has become a private home.

First Presbyterian Church in West Galway

    In 1790 a church was formed at West Galway on the Congregational plan by Rev. John Camp of New Canaan.  In 1793 under the pastorale of Rev. John Lindsley and through the Presbytery, this church became the First Presbyterian Church of Galloway.  He named his elders David Otis, Daniel Deen, Joseph Freeman, Asa Hitchel, Duncan McNaughton, Aaron Day and Joseph Wilbur.

    The first church building and also the first within town limits which became Perth, was built in 1793, on the northeast corner of the West Galway four corners.  Under very rigid rules the church prospered and its growth demanded a new church which was built on land purchased from Mr. & Mrs. John Ainslee.  About two hundred men were at the raising of the last timber in the tower.

    In 1851 Mrs. Duncan McMartin Jr. made a gift of a communion set to the congregation which is still in use.  In 1863 the seal of the church was adopted and is on display there.

    According to church records, in 1863 pews were rented to 48 families ranging in price from $1 to $15 and the money was used to pay the pastors salary.  In 1866, fifty-six pews were rented.

    Also in 1883, a new bell was purchased to replace the old one.  It was cast in Troy, and it took three teams of horses to bring it up the hills from the valley of West Galway. In those days the church bell played a very important roll.  It was rung by the sexton to call people to worship at the many services.  It tolled solemnly when someone in the congregation died and was followed by the persons age being struck.  The bell was also used as an alarm.

    The church had a choir of some 30 or 40 who were seated in the gallery.  In 1883, an organ was donated by the Christian endeavor Society.  Some of the older Scotch families frowned on the introduction of a musical instrument but finally reconciled.  In May 1911, the Ladies Auxiliary was organized and was active in the upkeep of the church and charity and mission work.

    In 1924 the Misses Margaret, Mary and Janet McMartin presented the church with a gift to install electricity and in 1945, the old center light fixture was discovered in the attic.  It was electrified and rehung in the center of the sanctuary where it is still in use.

    The church membership has declined over the years but hits beautiful colonial church is still active.  The high pulpit which had five or six steps has been lowered and the numbered doors on the pews removed but the beautiful sanctuary remains the same.

    Outside a handicap access ramp has been added but again the beautiful church remain the same.

 

Above:  The oil on canvas painting: 1888 Coming from Church

by Edward Lamson Henry 

has the West Galway United Presbyterian Church in the background.
The man driving is James C. Kennedy.  With him are his wife, Lucinda Grinnell and a friend.

 

 1888 Coming Home From Church

By Sylvia Zierack

Washington Frothingham mentions in his History of Fulton County, the United Presbyterian Church of West Galway.  It was organized in 1867 with 26 members and a church was built in 1868.  They had no settled pastor.

In 1986 Fulton County Historian Lewis Decker gave me a picture of an oil painting by E. L. Henry titled, "Coming Home From Church".  The people identified in the painting were the James Kennedy family.  Mr. Decker asked me if I knew the location of this old church now long gone.

The 1868 map of Perth shows that James Kennedy lived on Stairs Road at the west end of Calderwood Road.  Looking at the picture and knowing where he lived I felt sure that the church had to have been on the North side of Calderwood Road.

After much research in both Fulton and Montgomery Counties I found the location had been where the home of Mrs. Charles Harris stood near West Galway four corners on the north side of Calderwood Road.

Today the home is owned by Mark Simeone.  The church was torn down between 1903 and 1905.


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Copyright 1999,2000  Sylvia Zierack, May Yost
Copyright 1999,2000 Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.


Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:25:36 PDT

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